Last week, a coalition of organisations, including the Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Transgender Equality, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), Modern Military Association of America, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, American Civil Liberties Union, and Palm Center, expressed disappointment that the final FY20 National Defense Authorization bill does not include the Speier/Brown amendment, which was previously approved by the House of Representatives in a strong bipartisan vote of 242 to 187.
The language would have codified non-discrimination in the US Armed Forces, and ended the Trump Administration’s ban on transgender service members. They released the following joint statement:
“We are profoundly disappointed that this bipartisan amendment to end the ban on bravely serving transgender service members was not included in the final version of the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act.
“Transgender troops served openly and honorably without incident for three years before this reckless ban on their service was put into place by the Trump-Pence Administration. Military leadership, medical experts, and defense budget experts have all provided evidence that the ban is without merit, costs the taxpayer, and is damaging to military readiness.
“Although House and Senate Democratic leaders fought to retain this provision to end the ban, the White House, House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) fought vigorously to remove it, and ultimately prevailed.
“It is unconscionable that thousands of honorably serving transgender service members and their families will continue to live under the threat of discharge simply because of who they are. This ban is based on bias, not evidence, and is opposed by the American people, military experts, and elected officials across the political spectrum.
“We are deeply grateful to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA), Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) for their ongoing leadership on this important issue of military readiness.
“Currently, thousands of service member face discharge if they come out as transgender, while others see their careers at risk because they already have. The Trump Administration has refused to disclose any data on discharge proceedings under the ban.
“A Gallup poll in June found that 71% of Americans support the open service of transgender people in the military, including a clear majority of the nation’s veterans.
This year, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychiatric Association all released statements asserting that there is no medically valid reason to exclude transgender people from military service. Through the Palm Center, former military surgeons general released a report unequivocally dismantling the erroneous claim that transgender service members are medically unfit to serve.
“Last year, under oath before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the highest-ranking officers of each branch of the military stated there is no threat to military readiness or unit cohesion by the inclusion of trans service members, nor were there any reports that the three years in which trans service members were permitted to openly serve presented any problems”.